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29/09/2018 09:04 BST | Updated 01/10/2018 15:23 BST

Scroll Free September: This Is How Social Media Will Change Your Future

Remember when social media sites were only static images on a grid?

Sitthiphong via Getty Images
HuffPost

Before Snapchat and Stories made every second of your life uploadable, complete with half-decent filters and funny GIFs? 

Or when there was no such thing as a Tinder Super Like, tweets were limited to 140 characters and “click to shop” was all but a dream?

For anyone trying to rationalise or downsize their social media use, the constant pace of change proves another obstacle: if you don’t keep up, there’s always that feeling that you’re going to be left behind.

But there’s a value in considering exactly how important it is to stay “up-to-date”.

Not entirely understanding an update or being familiar with a new filter feature won’t harm your happiness, but feeling an obsessive pressure to use every new digital toy thrown your way very well might.

Unless you’re a social media professional and are being paid to keep up with digital novelties, interactions with in-app innovations aren’t mandatory. 

The future of social media may seem dizzying, but the underlying premise will stay the same. 

It might appear that the platforms themselves are the product that these businesses are selling, but that’s not the case. YOU are the product. Social media sites sell audiences to advertisers, something which will become more and more evident as trust and transparency – or at least paying lip service to transparency – become the next buzzwords.

Technology has already stopped being an add-on to our lives – so intrinsic and fundamental as it now is to our existence. 

The fact that social media is a human code created entirely by other humans who understand our instincts, primal desires and emotional responses, marks another stage in the evolution of our society, and one that’s not likely to reverse any time soon. 

As with all progress, there will be laments for the good old days, but ultimately the thing of most importance is that we collectively use our agency to consume consciously, no matter how alluring the new technology might be. 

Forget about the new Atkins, Paleo or 5:2 – in the digital age it’s your social media diet that really matters, and in this case, you really are what you eat.

Indeed, the biggest change for the future may come from disenchanted users desperately seeking a reprieve. 

As we all start to talk more openly about the way social media makes us feel, as we begin to realise that we are not alone in our addictive, often masochistic, behaviour, as the shine slowly wears off the fantasy, the bubble will struggle to stay intact. 

And maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to leave our destructive habits behind and enjoy social media for what it is: the best one per cent of our lives, with the real stuff, the other 99 per cent, hidden for only our real friends to discover.

This post is an edited excerpt of the final chapter of Katherine Ormerod’s debut novel, Why Social Media Is Ruining Your Life - republished here with permission.

This September HuffPost UK is challenging readers to back away from their social media feeds for 28 days in order to find new balance in our relationships with technology. Coinciding with the Royal Society For Public Health’s campaign Scroll Free September, we’ll be delivering the tips and motivation you need via a daily email. And the best part? You can sign up to start the challenge at any point in the month. So what are you waiting for?